Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve

Christmas 1 – New Year’s Eve
December 31, 2006
Luke 2:25-38
The Secret is Told!

Introduction: Now that Christmas has come, all the secrets are out to the joy of everyone. Or, are they? Christmas is clothed with mystery – what is the meaning of the virgin birth, the star in the East, an angel’s message to shepherds, a choir of angels singing in the night? Now is the time to see what it is all about. Simeon and Anna in their final years see the secret that explains all in a child - less than six weeks old, being carried into the temple for dedication to God. Simeon and Anna serve as models for us today to understand the true meaning of Christmas – to gain the secret of Christmas we, like Simeon and Anna, must:

Ø       Be looking for a Savior

Ø       Be in the right place

Ø       Be spiritually receptive

Ø       Be guided by the Spirit

Be looking for a Savior – V.25 “Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” 

The people of our world habitually seek to find the Savior - yet they hunt for Him where He never will be found. The world seeks a savior which mirrors its own sinful center. Today, the children of men are seeking a savior which bears their own reflection.  People of this world today covet what feels good, what is desirable to the eyes, what  makes one look good, sophisticated, - and wise.[1]  The world seeks pleasure, comfort, - and no commitments. The world desires rigor without submission - Orthodoxy without obedience.[2] This world will attempt to invent its own custom religion with “God” defined as whatever fulfills your needs. The lost souls of this sorry world are forever seeking joy and peace; yet, all the while insistent of the freedom to make whatever choices one desires, - still demanding independence from any unpleasant consequences.      

But this is the amazing thing about our Savior - He chooses to be found in those places the world would least expect. He chooses to reveal Himself in those places the world considers unimportant. He chooses to exert His power in what an unbelieving world considers weak and of little importance.

Transition: Anna and Simeon were looking for the Savior. They were at the right place to receive Him.

2.   Be in the right place – V. 27 “Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required,” 

The right place to receive and find the Lord is to be open to Him, and then to receive Him in faith.  Where do we find the Savior today? We find Him in those places only the Father has promised we would find Him. We find Him in His message of the Gospel. We find Him in the reading of the Inspired Word. We find Him the waters of Holy Baptism. We find Him in His Meal, in His Word of Absolution, and hidden away in our own hearts.

If you are seeking Christ this Christmas season and in the New Year you will find Him only in those places the Father has promised He would be found.  The Shepherds, Simeon, and Anna found Him – “just as it had been told unto them”.[3] Why then, should you expect anything different?

Transition:  Anna and Simeon were looking for the Savior. They were at the right place to receive Him. They were spiritually receptive.         

3.   Be spiritually receptive – Vv. 25, “Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”

God is completely responsible for your salvation, from front to back. We don’t one day simply wake up and decide to follow Jesus – instead He plants the seed of faith in our heart. He then nourishes that faith by giving us His eternal Word which is able to make us wise unto salvation.

That seed of faith is demonstrated by how we live and treat one another. That’s what you as families do, [either in you immediate family or in our Friedheim family] especially as you care for our elderly – tending to their physical needs - especially in the last months and weeks of life. When you do this, your service and care takes on a spiritual dimension – you are preparing them for their entry into eternity.  Reminding them of the grace of God found in Jesus Christ our Redeemer – who came into this world at Christmas to be our Savior from sin.

One day Jesus happened to visit a family in mourning; the family of Mary and Martha, who were grieving over the loss of their brother Lazarus. As Jesus spoke with them He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Then, He asked them a question, “Do you believe this?” [4]

This is the question we each must ponder…

Is Jesus the resurrection and the life? The testimony of Scripture is undeniable. The early disciples simply said, “We are witnesses of these things!”[5]

Do you believe – that whoever believes in Jesus, even though they die will live and not die?

Scripture does not tell us for how long after this encounter that Anna and Simeon would live. We’re told from Scripture that they were old and advanced in years, and it probably wasn’t too many years before they were translated into glory.  Because Anna and Simeon were spiritually receptive, Simeon was moved to pray a simply yet powerful prayer. It is a prayer you and I sing at every communion service. It is a wonderful prayer for you and I to pray as we close out an old year and anticipate a new year, “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel.”[6]

Whether you are young or old, - it doesn’t matter - if you believe these words, you, like Simeon of old, are spiritually receptive and well prepared to be received into glory when our King comes.     Believing this reality – that you are a sinner, but also that Christ is compassionate who has promised to forgive our sins – all who have gone before us, dying in the faith, they are alive this day, they are well, they are at peace, they are whole – and if we have this same faith we will see each other again – never to be separated by time, distance, or space.

Transition:  Anna and Simeon were looking for the Savior. They were at the right place to receive Him. They were spiritually receptive, for they were guided by the Spirit.

4.   Be guided by the Spirit – V.27 “Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts…”

Three of the hardest words to pray make up the 2nd petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom Come” The reason we find these words so difficult is because we so often want to force God’s kingdom to come, or for it to be done according to our own agendas and plans. It’s what some folk call “playing church.” We want things done “my way!” That’s why we have to pray the 3rd petition, “Thy will be done, Lord!”

To assure us that God’s kingdom will happen God’s way, we are given a wonderful promise. God’s will is being worked out in your life. How do we know this is so?  He gives us His Holy Spirit. Luther would remind us in the Small Catechism, “The good and gracious will of God is done even without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.”[7]

Conclusion; We come again to the conclusion of another Christmas season and another year. How will 2007 fare? If we take the attitude and posture of these two saints; Anna and Simeon, 2007 will be a banner year. Fair thee well child of God, Fair thee well. And yes, Happy New Year!

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

[1] See the temptation of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:6

[2] The premise of  David Brooks’  BOBO’S IN PARIDISE © 2005 Simon & Schuster

[3] Luke 2:20

[4] John 11:25-26

[5] Acts 3:15; 5:32; 10:39

[6] Divine Service, Setting Three from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis pp. 199-200

[7] The Small Catechism from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis pg. 324

Monday, December 25, 2006


Christmas Day
December 25, 2006

Introduction:  The angel’s message to shepherds 2000 years ago comes to us this day. What would it say to us?  It is a message which has changed this world and in fact our very lives – It is a message of confidence and joy.

I.        It is a message of confidence – The angel says: “Do not be afraid!” 

There are many in our world living today in fear – What are the fears people are dealing with these days?

A.     Fear of the future.

1.      Terrorism – We watch nightly on the evening news reports from all over the world where violence is escalating. Many fear what might befall us in the new year where near calamity can come upon us suddenly - at any moment.

2.      Uncertainty of the future – what will befall us next?  The fact that we do not know the future makes some folks immobile, frozen in the present. This is what frustrates so many – we do not know the future. But one thing we do know – He who orders our past will direct our future. The God who entered time and space as a baby will order all of our days.

B.     Worries and disappointments of the past can also   cause some to fear. Each of us has had those moments of which we are not proud. It’s easy to say, “it’s in the past” yet so often our past has a habit of entering our present so that we relive our “times of yore” over and over again as if it were happening presently.

1.      The memory of past sins, failures and disappointments can leave us depressed and discouraged. Not wanting to look forward to the future.

2.      But God has given us Christmas – The Father’s gift of His Son is the solution to our problem with sin, and with guilt. Thus we take comfort in the words of the prophet who says: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…”

Transition: The Angel announces to us, “Be not afraid!” When our fears subside we can truly worship the new born King with joy and peace.

II.     The angel’s message is one of true joy.

A.     “I bring you good tidings of great joy.” says the angel.

1.      These are good tidings – God has come to visit His people – He chooses not to leave us floundering in sin – no, He came to defeat sin and death and Satan’s power by becoming a curse for us.

2.      Having become a curse He exchanges our misery for His own righteousness. No other gift could fit us better. He knows what we need and has given us His best. This day we simply celebrate that God has acted for us – lying in a manger, hanging on a cruel and bloody cross, standing triumphant outside an empty tomb, at the font, in the cup. Real places for real sinners!

B.     These glad tidings are for all people. 

1.      The first Christmas sighting was in late August/early September - with a Christmas display and merchandize ready to be sold - at a Wal-mart store! From the day after Thanksgiving up to today a few local radio stations have played nothing but Christmas music which can leave some overwhelmed by Christmas wishing it would go away as soon as it arrives! 
Yet what an excellent time for us to witness to our family, friends, and neighbors that what the world has been so long expecting has in fact come to be – God and man are reconciled! If a few shop keepers and telecommunications executives want to prolong Christmas – so be it!  At no other time in the year are people talking about Jesus then this present Christmas season. Why shouldn’t we talk of Him whose birth we celebrate this day! 

2.      There is now peace on earth because the Father is at peace. He is at peace with the sending of His Son. He is at peace at what this Savior has accomplished at the bloody cross and empty tomb. He is at peace to bring us home on our last day into mansions glorious.

Conclusion: With confidence and joy we now live for Him who has saved us. Be with me Lord Jesus I ask Thee to stay. Close by me forever and love me I pray. Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care. And fit us for heaven to live with Thee there. Blessed Christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Mid-week Advent 3

Advent Mid-week 3
December 20, 2006
Matthew 1:20-23
To Whom Does Jesus Come?

INTRODUCTION: To whom does Jesus come? He comes to people who struggle with their faith. So often in matters of life the issues are not always black and white. Sometimes there is a lot of gray. Often we are forced to struggle and wrestle as we grapple with the question, “Lord what should I do?”  At other times we know intuitively what we should do.  There is no needing to ask: “what shall I do now?” We know, in our gut, with every fiber of our being, what we ought to do. All we need to ask in such instances is for the strength and the will to act. To whom does Jesus come? He comes with enlightenment to him who does not understand.

We consider this evening Joseph. When he learned that Mary was bearing a child, he was understandably disturbed. He knew of two realities. First, Mary to whom he was engaged was expecting a child. He also knows he is not the Father!

Joseph, being a just man, tried to conform his life to the Jewish law. “Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” (v.19) Here we see Joseph’s dilemma. Whose reputation, he pondered, should be tarnished, Mary’s or his own? That was the issue with which he was wrestling. Joseph felt betrayed; he loved Mary, yet he didn’t want to “expose her to public disgrace.” To whom does Jesus come? He comes to people who struggle with their faith.  He comes with enlightenment to him who does not understand.

1.         In making decisions, of which we do not fully understand all of the circumstances remember it is God who is working behind the scenes to will and to do His perfect good pleasure. Such was the case in the birth of Jesus as Joseph understood it. An angel sent by God had to intervene.  Matthew 1:20  But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

2.         Joseph also learned a second valuable lesson. When God is acting for us it is He who will act. Because man is blind, dead, and an enemy of God we need God’s saving work in our lives. This is exactly why Jesus was born in the first place. This is why He came. The angel explains to Joseph specifically why this birth means so much. Matthew 1:21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  

And save us He has. God is at work working out your salvation. Nothing is left to chance. To the contrary He is shaping, molding and using ever circumstance in your life to bring about one reality. He was born to afford you salvation. That is why Jesus came to this earth. He came to save His people from their sins.

3.         Joseph also learned a valuable lesson. The Scriptures cannot be broken. Jesus’ birth was not a mistake, a miscalculation, an inaccuracy. To the contrary it was all mapped out in Scripture. The Savior’s birth had been foretold in sacred Scripture and to Joseph’s amazement these Scriptures were fulfilled in his lifetime. He lived to see them played out right before his eyes! Matthew 1:22-23 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”

CONCLUSION: When we must choose – choose wisely. Often we are forced to make decisions in life in which the outcome will not necessarily be pleasant.  When we have to choose “the lesser of two evils” as Joseph, we need to wrestle and pray. Actions do have their consequences. Joseph did not act rashly. Decisions reached hastily are often ill advised. Patience is needed when the situation is serious.            

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Advent mid-week 2

Advent Mid-week 2
December 13, 2006
Luke 1:26, 31-33
To Whom Does Jesus Come?

INTRODUCTION: In the Gospel of Luke the birth of Jesus is foretold. The Lord sends a messenger who comes to Mary the very peasant girl who will give Him birth. To whom does Jesus come?  Jesus comes with comfort to him who waits.

In Luke 1:26  we read: “In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,”  The mention of Elizabeth's "sixth month" establishes a link between Jesus and the prophet John the Baptist. Nazareth was a small town off the main trade routes. Its insignificant size contrasts with Jerusalem, where Gabriel's previous appearance had taken place. Jn 1:46 records the negative Judean opinion of Nazareth. “What good ever came out of Nazareth?”  

Likewise, the region of Galilee contrasts with Judea. Surrounded as they were by Gentiles, the Galileans were not necessarily irreligious but many were somewhat lax regarding strict Jewish traditions. And what really is the point? Jesus did not come to the high and mighty, the religious. He came from a region of sinners and a family of sinners to redeem sinful people.

What can we say concerning this Savior? Let’s see what the angel has to say:

“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”  Luke 1:31-33

Mary’s Son was to be infinitely greater than John.

(a) His name was to be Jesus, ‘Jehovah is salvation’ (31).

(b) He would be great (32), a title which, unqualified, is usually reserved for God Himself.

(c) As heir to David’s throne He will reign over God’s people (33).

(d) His kingdom will be eternal (33).

CONCLUSION: To whom does Jesus come? He comes to comfort those who wait patiently for Him.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Advent 1 mid-week

Advent Mid-week 1
December 6, 2006
Luke 1:18-20
 “The Promised Savior”
To Whom Does Jesus Come?

INTRODUCTION:  To whom does Jesus come? Does He come only to those who are rich in faith? Does He come only to those who have everything figured out? Does He come only to those who are secure in their beliefs?  What about the Scrooges of this world? Does Jesus come to them also? These Scrooges…they want to believe. They want to get all caught up in the merriment of this holiday season and yet they are reserved… There are those people who simply haven’t finally gotten a full grasp of the Christmas story. Now don’t get me wrong, they know the story inside and out which might be their downfall. They don’t necessary doubt but they have questions. Could the Savior really be born in Bethlehem, in a stable, to a Virgin?  As we consider the question: to whom does Jesus come we will find that Jesus comes with proof to him who has questions.

Ah yes, there are plenty of questions in the Christmas story. The man we will focus on this night is an old man by the name of Zachariah.

We know a little concerning Zachariah the father of John the Baptist. We know that Zachariah was a priest, whose lot it had fallen to offer up prayers at the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Jewish exile into Babylon had interrupted the original lines of descent; so once returning to Israel the divisions were regrouped, most of them corresponding to the original in name only. Each of the twenty-four divisions served in the temple for one week, twice a year, as well as at the major festivals.

An individual priest, however, could offer the incense at the daily sacrifice only once in his lifetime since there were so many priests. Therefore this was the climactic moment of Zechariah's priestly career, perhaps the most dramatic moment possible for the event described to have occurred. God was breaking into the ancient routine of Jewish ritual with the word of His decisive saving act and nobody could believe it!

The suddenness of the appearance of the angel in the Holy Place is in agreement with other supernatural events in the Christmas story. Consider the heavenly host that visited the shepherds. (cf. 2:9, 13).

Only a heavenly being had the right to appear in that place with the priest. Zechariah's startled and fearful reaction is not only a natural reaction to such an appearance but is also consistent with what the Gospels say about the response of the disciples and others to the presence of the supernatural. They are - startled and to say the least - apprehensive at best, - doubtful and the worst.

This is the first indication of prayer on the part of Zechariah. The specific petition probably refers to both his lifelong prayer for a child (probably a son) and his just-offered prayer in the temple for the messianic redemption of Israel. Actually, the birth of his child was bound up with redemption in a way far beyond anything Zechariah expected.

As he prays for a son his prayer will be answered. As he prays for the redemption of Israel through the coming of the promised Savior his prayer will be answered!

That the prayer included a petition for a son is substantiated by the further description of the child, beginning with his name "John" (meaning "The Lord is gracious"). John being named before his birth stresses God's amazing mercy and grace in choosing John to be His servant.

To question does not mean doubt! Mary’s question arises from faith (v.45). Mary simply inquired as to the way God would work; Zechariah questioned the truth of the revelation. Zachariah's question, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” Luke 1:18 seems oh so innocent, but  it was asked in doubt. In contrast to Mary's question- - "How can I be sure of this?" apparently was a request for a sign. Though we are told that Zechariah was devout (v.6), his quest for confirmation was perilously close to the attitude described by the skeptics, who in Luke 11:29 are searching for confirmation of Jesus’ ministry but find nothing to their satisfaction. “As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”  

In the midst of his skepticism, disbelief, uncertainty and doubt the Lord speaks to Zachariah through the messenger Gabriel. “The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.  And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.” Luke 1:19-20

There you have it! Zachariah is dumbfound by the news and staggers at the very thought that he would be a father in his old age. Thus he will live in silence until the child is born. Yet, the mighty acts of God will be fulfilled in Zachariah’s lifetime. He will have a son, and the promised Savior will be born. John will be His prophet and the holy one of Israel will come to deliver His people. It will happen all as Gabriel had promised.

The Christmas story is just as difficult to imagine as is the birth of John, born to parents well beyond years and yet it all happened as it has been recorded to us in sacred Scripture.

The fact that Zachariah had difficulty believing what his ears were hearing does not mean it is impossible. To the contrary, it reminds us that what is impossible for man is all God’s doing!  If an old couple could cradle in their arms their own son could not God give us His own Son to be conceived of a Virgin, to be born, suffer, be crucified, die and then rise from the dead on the third day?  If you have difficulties grasping the wonder of the Christmas story your in good company with the likes of Zachariah and Thomas and even Peter.   To whom does Jesus come? He comes with proof to him who questions.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day
November 23, 2006

INTRODUCTION: Once again we have come to another Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving here at Zion is much more likened to a harvest festival in which we return thanks to God who has given us another year to serve Him in providing the people of this world food to eat.

We have again experienced the four seasons which are so critical and significant to our farming community. There is first, the dormancy of winter in which the world around us sleeps and enters hibernation. But with the emergence of spring comes the hope of another season. Planting leads to growth and maturation in summer which gives way to the harvest of autumn. Each year has its own challenges and this year has had its own.  How should we view this year’s harvest? Let us consider these realities.

Through the kindness of God we have again received the fruit of the earth in their season.

Our prayer should be that we rejoice in Christ’s mercy.

Our prayer should be that neither prosperity nor adversity would drive us from Christ’s presence.

CONCLUSION: Lord God heavenly Father, through whose kindness we have again received the fruits of the earth in their season, grant us ever to rejoice in Your mercy that neither prosperity nor adversity may drive us from Your presences. This we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving Eve

Thanksgiving Eve
November 22, 2006

As we gather this night to give thanks to the Lord for another harvest, for an opportunity to serve Him let us come to Him as He has invited us simply to come, for we come at Christ’s great invitation.

Christ’s Great Invitation

I.        Come – UNTO ME – For Rest. Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

A.     Are you burdened, weighed down by the load and cares of this life and the troubles of this world. Does sin hamper and consume us? Where can we find relief?

B.     The rest we find comes from the Lord Jesus who suffered, died and rose again to give us eternal rest and gladness. He bore our sins in His own body on the cross that we might die to sin and live unto righteousness.

Transition: We look to Jesus for rest from the burdens of sin and strife. We look unto Him for life. 

II.     Look – UNTO ME – for Life Isaiah 45:22 “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.”

A.     The Lord is specific – turn to Me to be saved. There is salvation in no one else. Jesus is the only way to salvation. He desires all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. He desires all from the ends of the earth to come to Him and be His.

B.     Apart from Christ there is no other way of salvation. There is no other way! He is not just one among many. He alone is the only way.

Transition: As He comes to us for rest, as He comes to us for life He comes to us for us to be made whole.

III.   Turn – UNTO ME – for Restoration Nehemiah 1:9 “but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.”

A.     The Lord has a plan, to gather all men to Himself. He desires us to return back to Him. How do we come to Him? We come to Him with humble and thankful hearts. We come at His bidding, at His urging, at His calling.

B.     We come to the place He has chosen. It might be this service tonight. It might have been at a moment in your life when you realized God’s call. It comes daily as He speaks to us clearly through His Word and in His Sacraments. His calling, urging, prompting, is His Holy Spirit at work in you.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Reformation Observed
October 29, 2006
John 8:34-36
Made free

Introduction: How are we to perceive ourselves? Some believe we exist to be free. That seems to be the American mantra, “I was born free, I live free, and I will die, free!”  The truth is we are born slaves to sin, for each and every one of us has been born into sin. We are in bondage to the power of the Devil.

Fortunately, this bondage was broken by a man who suffered on a cruel and bloody cross and then stood at the mouth of an open tomb. Christians are now declared to be slaves of Christ, but in Christ we are now slaves who are set free. The Emancipation proclamation is what will be remembered as one of Lincoln’s greatest acts as president. . Jesus’ death on the cruel, cruel, cross is what has guaranteed our freedom. The Reformation was the event that called for religious freedom – freedom of a burdened conscience, freedom from false teachings. We are declared to be free in Christ – free to live and love and serve.

As Christians we are

Born, destined to be slaves of sin –
Yet, we have been made free by Jesus Christ  the only-begotten Son of God –
I.        Each is born a slave to sin. (V. 34) “Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.”

A.     Because of our first parents Adam and Eve we have all been made slaves to sin.

1.      One of the hymns we teach our students in Morning Prayer at Wyneken expresses this truth so well.  “In Adam we have all been one, One huge rebellious man; We all have fled that evening voice That sought us as we ran.” [1]

2.      We remain in this state of slavery and bondage until the day we draw our last breath. Yes, we have been redeemed by Christ the crucified. Yes, Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law. But at the same time, there is the “Old Adam [lurking] within us, {who} should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil lust so that a new man can daily come forth and arise who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.” [2]  
St. Paul writes, in Romans, the sixth chapter, “We were buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”[3]

B.     Daily we fall short of the perfection the Father demands of us.

1.      We confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We have not loved the Father with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors and ourselves. We justly deserve the Father’s present and eternal punishment.[4]

2.      We confess both sins of commission and sins of omission. This is what we mean when we say to God, “We have sinned by thought, word and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone.” [5]

3.      Specifically, we plead guilty before God in everything. In Individual/Private Confession we pray, “I have lived as if God did not matter and as if I mattered most. My Lord’s name I have not honored as I should; my worship and prayers have faltered. I have not let His love have its way with me, and so my live for others has failed. There are those whom I have hurt, and those whom I failed to help. My thoughts and desires have been soiled with sin.” [6]

Transition: By being human we are born slaves to sin. Yet there is in us a “new man” which has made us a new people.

II.     We are made free by God’s Son. (V. 36) “So if the son has made you free you are free indeed.”

A.     You are made free because of the action of Jesus Christ.

1.      He is the one who entered this world. John in his Gospel will tell us, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.[7] But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.[8] 

2.      He is the one who bore your sin. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”[9]

3.      He is the one who offers you new life.  St. Paul would remind us, “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”[10]

B.     This freedom can not be taken from you.

1.      Satan may howl and shriek. This is what he enjoys and he’s so good it! He’s so good at what he does. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 9 “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” [11] He’s always accusing, always judging, always condemning. He’s so critical. He does not approve of Christ and what He is doing in you. So He will continue to bellow and shout his accusations at us.

2.      But in a clear small voice someone speaks even louder - it is Christ your Savior who speaks His word of peace, “I forgive you” “I love you” “I care for you.” This is what moved the Evangelist John to write, “This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”  [12]

Conclusion: How are we to perceive ourselves?  As humans we are born slaves of sin – Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. That’s the Law. Yet, by the grace of God we have been made free by the Son – So if the Son has made you free you are free indeed. In Jesus Christ you are free indeed. Believe and trust in this reality. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.  

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

[1] “In Adam We Have All Been One” from Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO

[2] “The Significance of Baptizing with Water” from Luther’s Small Catechism Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO pg. 303

[3] Romans 6:

[4] Confession of Sins from Divine Service II Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO p. 158

[5] Ibid

[6] Individual Confession and Absolution Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO p. 310

[7] John 1:14

[8] Galatians 4:4

[9] 1 Peter 2:24-25

[10] Romans 6:3-4

[11] 1 Peter 5:8-9

[12] 1 John 3:19-20

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Trinity Sunday
June 11, 2006
Deuteronomy 6:4-5
How many Gods do you have?

INTRODUCTION: Most people in our society today claim to be mono-theists – they claim to worship only one God. Is this so?  In many respects people in our world are for the most part poly-theists worshiping many gods because they are devoted to persons and things other then God. Could it be said that most people’s choice of God is much akin to Baskin Robins™ - with 31 flavors – one for each day of the month? Our Old Testament lesson declares that God is one, and that no other god has any reality. What would this say to our world today?

I.        What makes a god?

A.     One to whom you are totally devoted. Where your heart is there your treasure will be.

B.     What is your “passion” – this is your “god”

II.     What “gods” are available in our time?

A.     The god of success –

1.      The American Dream still lives

2.      The one with the most toys wins!

B.     The god of contentment –

1.      We have never had it so good

2.      What we consider necessities others regard as luxuries – e.g. the average “welfare” family often has – color televisions, air conditioning, two cars, DVD players, a VCR, etc.

C.     The god of ease –

1.       “I keep working for the week-end” from Huey Lewis & the News

2.      Retire early –

III.   If God is your one God, you must love Him totally - God lays His command to love “upon your heart” – v.6

A.     It is not enough to know you are to love God, nor to understand investigate, or discuss the command. God is not to be analyzed, scrutinized, or dissected. He is totally “other” 

B.     It is to be a matter of the heart. It involves your feelings, your emotions, your will.

C.     Our faith dare not be only cerebral. It must get deep into the psyche so that the whole person responds in obedience to God’s command.

CONCLUSION: The words of our text for this morning make up the Shema, the chief and basic confession of the Old Testament – that there is one God and He is to be worshiped totally. Though God manifests Himself in three persons – He is one essence. To love and worship God calls for us to believe that God is one and He is to be loved with one’s total being.

Sunday, June 4, 2006


The Feast of Pentecost
June 4, 2006
John 7:38
"Out of his heart shall flow rivers of water"

Introduction: Out of whose heart? From whose heart comes the water of the Spirit? Scholars are divided in interpreting this text. Is it Christ or is it the believer’s heart? Out of whose heart shall flow rivers of water? Is this a reference to the believer or does the text speak of Christ?  Could it be referring to both?

This morning, let us consider the source of the Spirit.

I.  In a significant way, our text must refer to Christ.

A.   Christ is the center of everything that is written in the Scriptures. Not only in the New Testament but clearly and plainly Christ is seen in the pages of the Old Testament.

B.    He is the one predicted by the prophets of Old. He is the One by whom salvation would be won for the entire world. He was the One of whom the Father spoke in the garden when He said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed. He will crust your head and you will nip at his heel.” Genesis 3:16

C.    In the midst of the desert when the people were thirsting for lack of water, it was Moses, who brought water from the rock. Then we are reminded that the rock was Christ.

Transition: Today on Pentecost Sunday when we celebrate the Father’s out pouring of the Spirit and the birth of missions we find Christ at the center of the Spirit’s work and activity. But why does the Spirit work? And where is His work centered? The Savior came to seek and save the lost. The Spirit works to bring individuals into Christ’s kingdom. The kingdom always involves people, one soul at a time.

II.   The text can rightfully center on the believer.

A.   By faith Christ makes His home in the human heart. Recall Jesus’ words, “I make My home with him.” The Savior desires to have an intimate relationship with each and every believer. His desire is to live with you, to direct you, to fellowship with you, to fill you.

B.   Since Christ is the source of the Spirit, Christ living in the believer’s heart allows the believer to produce rivers of living water.

Illustration: Isn’t it amazing what “a little bit of rain” can do?  We really haven’t had a lot of rain. We’ve just had “a little bit of rain” followed by “a little bit of rain” followed by “a little bit of rain” followed by “ a little bit of rain” this past month. That “little bit of rain” can add up!  And in a month or two, come July and August if we have that “little bit of rain” which many might call “a million dollar shower” – that three quarter of an inch of rain that comes at exactly the right time will turn an average yield into a bin buster. In a more significant way the Holy Spirit comes to us continually – refreshing and stimulating us spiritually.

This is how we impact the world and others living around us a little at a time.  By living out your faith you demonstrated your faith each day, a little at a time - you make obvious the compassion of Christ. By expressing the fruit of the Spirit in your life your neighbors are invited to behold Christ. By living out your faith the world is won for Christ - one soul at a time.

Conclusion: The source of the Spirit always centers on Jesus Christ. Christ who won salvation for this world is the source of all life and the center of the Spirit’s work. Yet, as He dwells in you individually He touches one life at a time. “Out of his heart shall flow rivers of water.” From Himself - to you - to the ends of the earth - the Spirit flows.    

Thursday, May 25, 2006


May 25, 2006
Acts 1:11

Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

INTRODUCTION: 40 days after the Resurrection and 10 days before Pentecost the church gathers to celebrate one of the earliest church holidays – the Ascension of our Lord. What does the ascension mean for us today in the 21st Century - living in the year of our Lord 2006? Let’s consider the words of the angels as they spoke to the 1st century believers.

1. Jesus Has Ascended

The Jesus whom the disciples had known now had a heavenly existence (cf. the double use of the phrase "into heaven").

2. He will return

The same Jesus they had known would return also enveloped in the cloud of the divine presence and glory (cf. Matthew 24:30; 26:64; Mark 13:26; 14:62; Luke 21:27).

CONCLUSION: Even so come Lord Jesus, come even today!

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Confirmation 2006

May 7, 2006
Revelation 22:12

“And Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to give to every one according to what he has done” –Revelation 22:12

Introduction:  The first time I looked at your verse which you chose for your confirmation I was somewhat taken aback. Of course, the immediate context of this verse speaks about the end of the world. A verse that speaks of Judgment Day on the happy occasion of your confirmation just doesn’t seem to fit. But again, as I’ve said to each class – it’s your confirmation – you select the text and I’ll try to make it memorable!   [With this thought in mind let us pray…]

We are very much into the glorious season of Easter. Because Jesus has suffered for us on the cross, as He has taken to Himself the burden of our sin, and bore it in His body on the cross – all sin has been paid for, every burden has been lifted and the guilt is gone! 

Because Jesus rose from the dead on that first Easter morning we have been given the assurance that heaven is our home and that we will live and reign with Him throughout all eternity. The victory is His! To His children, His chosen people He has given the fruits of His victory.

How can we compare our Christian life to the life that was lived by our Savior?  It’s almost as if you were at a major competition such as a music or sporting event. Our Savior Jesus took it upon Himself to guarantee certain victory. He did everything to secure our salvation – everything from front to back.  What a celebration it was when Jesus suffered, died, and rose again – for me and for you. The next big event is the celebration that will take place when our Champion returns with His trophy in hand.

That’s where you and I find ourselves today. We are living between two great and glorious events. We are living in between the victory Christ has won for us and the festivities that will take place in glory when this present age comes to a close.

When Jesus returns in glory the victory party - the big celebration will really begin. Figuratively speaking, you and I are on the bus ride home - traveling to the main event. We’re traveling between the victory that occurred at the cross and empty tomb and the celebration that will last into eternity. It will all be trumpeted with the return of Christ to the planet earth visibly.  When every eye shall see Him – then it’ll really be time, as you put it, “to have some fun”!

Today you affirm your loyalty – loyalty to the Savior who has redeemed you – a loyalty to Him that will last beyond time. It is in this context that the Savior’s words come to you today.

I.   Jesus says, “And behold I am coming quickly.”

A.    Scripture reminds us it will happen in a twinkling or in the blinking of an eye – at the last trumpet – when the dead in Christ shall rise and we shall see Him. Scripture is very clear on this matter. We are told that “every eye shall see Him.”

Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen.  Revelation 1:7

B.     Christ will return when people least expect it. But can we really tell - and do we really know - when Christ will return in glory? Again, Scripture is quite clear on the matter. Jesus Christ Himself will return when the last pagan is converted. What a glorious time to be alive!

Paul, your dad can attest to this – I was brought into the world of computers kicking and screaming!  Your world is so much different then when I was your age and your parents were your age! The use of the internet, instant messaging, text messages, lap top computers and I-pods are all a part of your world! 

There has been a literal explosion in information and technology. We are able to keep in touch as never before. That new cell phone you were hoping for this Christmas might very well have a GPS tracking devise on it where your Mom will now be able to tell from her cell phone - not only where you are at any moment - but exactly when you took off for school and when you arrived! 

So your Dad can now “do the math” to determine how fast you were driving as you made it to school! Ah, remember those “old school” math calculations we adults had to work through in school? 

“If Johnny lives 16 miles from school - and there is one traffic light located five miles from the school - which pauses for 47 seconds - and Johnny arrives at school in 23 minuets - how fast was Johnny traveling?”

With the advances in information and technology today - what once took Lutheran Bible Translators TM years to produce a translation of the New Testament into a new peoples’ language - is now done in a matter of months!

With the events in our world unfolding politically, economically, and socially could it be that this is the last generation? Could Christ return in your generation and in your lifetime? The possibility always exists that Christ could return within any generation but within your lifetime? YES! The possibility is there. The last person to be converted could happen within your lifetime.

Transition: Christ is coming quickly. He has promised to come bearing gifts.

II.     And my reward with Me.

A.  Christ has promised that when He returns He will come rewarding us. What is it that we deserve? According to our thoughts riddled with sin. According to our words which are so often filled with malice and venom and lies. According to our deeds which are so often self directed, self centered and self motivated. – All three – thoughts, words and deeds are filled with sin.

We deserve God’s wrath, displeasure, temporal death and eternal damnation.  Yet He deals with us not according to our sins. Instead He forgives us. He takes our sins and separates them as far as the East is from the West and He remembers our sin no more. You know the Scripture well;

 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1John 1:8

B.  For our sin we deserve God’s wrath, displeasure, temporal death and eternal damnation. In exchange for our sin He bestows on us His grace and every blessing.  Jesus gives us life – real and abundant life. Jesus said in the Gospel of John, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full". John 10:11 The life He gives to you is a life that has no end.

He brought you to life when you were born into this world. He has given you talents, abilities and gifts to be used in this world for the good of our neighbor. This is how you show your love for God by serving your neighbor. The real work starts now – as you let your light shine before men that they might know you are a Christian – that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Transition:  Christ is coming quickly. He has promised to come bringing gifts. When He comes He will reward you.

III.       to give to every one according to what he has done.

A.   His reward is to everyone according to his own work.  On the surface, that sounds a lot like compensation and payment for something we’ve done or deserved. But we must remember that everything we have, even our faith – is a gift from God.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17   

Yes, we are always on the receiving end of God’s Hand. He doesn’t reward us because we’re so much better then some or not as bad as others. No, He rewards us according to the faith He has already given us. The reward we receive - the crown of everlasting life is what Christ has already earned for us by going to the cross and breaking free from the empty tomb.

B.   In light of what Jesus has already won for you my prayer for you is that you would simply avail yourselves to those gifts He has offered to you. Continue to do what you have been doing up to this very moment in time.

Make use of God’s Holy Word. It is His message to you. Here He speaks to you daily. Avail yourself to His Word for His desire is to talk to you. As we pray every Sunday, my prayer for you is that you would hear God’s Word, that you would “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them – that you would embrace and ever hold fast to the blessed hope of everlasting life which was given you in our Savior Jesus Christ.”

Daily remember your baptism. Since we cannot carry it out turn to Him who has carried it out on His own out stretched arms. On the day of your baptism Christ entered your life and has continued to direct your life to this very hour. When you come to Him confessing your sin, Jesus who is faithful and just - forgives your sin and cleanses you from all unrighteousness.

Make use of His meal. When you receive His body and blood in this comforting sacrament you receive the gifts He intends you to have. It is a most glorious meal. It has all the essentials! The forgiveness of sins, the strength of your faith, the assurance that you belong to God and heaven is your home! What more could you need? Nothing more then to live your life as a redeemed child of God. This is what I like to call “Sacramental living” live as a redeemed child of God. Be a blessing to those around you – in short, be a sermon in shoes.

Pray!  Take your joys and sorrows your burdens and cares to the throne room of grace and be thankful as He answers each petition.

Make use of the talents and abilities the Savior has given to you. Each of us has gifts. You have been given many. Your challenge –discover what God has given you and then use these talents for His service. Love Jesus. Serve your neighbor. Be a blessing.

Conclusion: We all can be proud of you. The verses you have chosen will serve you well. Remember what you have been taught, cling to that which is good, and may the Savior walk with you each and every day of your life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Sunrise

Easter Sunrise
April 16, 2006
1 Corinthians 15:19-28
Victory is Guaranteed

INTRODUCTION: Days prior to Super Bowl III New York Jets quarterback “Broadway Joe” Namath guaranteed victory. The country was shocked and taken aback. How could he be so sure, so brazen, and so confident? People simply didn’t make such predictions.

In a more serious note St. Paul guarantees our victory over death. From the perspective of what God intended for us – that we should not die but live – death is indeed a certain enemy.  Yet here in our text Paul makes a bold statement – our victory over death is guaranteed! How is this so?

I.        Our victory over death is guaranteed by Christ’s resurrection.

A.     Christ is the first-fruits.

1.      Just as the first sheaf of grain offered as a sacrifice to God in the Old Testament represented the full harvest that was to follow, so Christ’s resurrection is the first of many resurrections that will surely follow. (v.20)

2.      Because our resurrection from the dead is assured, our physical death can be regarded as sleep (“who have fallen asleep” v.20)

3.      The hope we have based on Christ’s resurrection does not relate only to this life but also to life beyond physical death (v.19)

B.     Christ is the source of life.

1.      Death is an event brought on by the first man, Adam.

2.      The second Adam, Jesus Christ, the God-man, by His death and resurrection abolished death (V.22; 2 Timothy 1:10)

Transition: But when will this banishment of death occur for us in view of the fact that we must all experience physical death? “Each in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ” (V.23) Our victory over death is guaranteed!

II.     At Christ’s 2nd Coming.

A.     The triumphs of evil that we see around us, especially the devastation caused by death, will not continue forever.

1.      Christ is even now in control and will one day openly display His victory over all evil.

2.      In the meantime He will not permit any evil, including death, to destroy us. (Vv.25, 27)

B.     The day is coming when all the forces opposing God will be utterly destroyed. (V. 24)

1.      The scheming of Satan, the plotting of evil people, the perversities of our sinful nature, the grip of death will be conquered.

2.      From that day on there will be no more death!

C.     The second coming of Christ will mark the beginning of a new existence in which the Triune God will be everything to us in a kingdom of glory without end. (V.28)

CONCLUSION: Can we guarantee victory without any hesitation or doubt? The resurrection of Jesus Christ guarantees our victory over death, pointing us to that day when we shall rise to endless life, and death shall be no more!

Easter Festival

Easter Festival
April 16, 2006
Isaiah 25:6-9
Easter Joy

INTRODUCTION: The one thing most people want is happiness. Our expressions at Easter indicate that Easter is supposed to a happy time, “Easter Joy” and “Happy Easter” are just a few expressions which come to mind. It is a time of rejoicing not because of our happy circumstances but because, and only because of what God has done for us in the Resurrection. True Christians are happy regardless of the hardships they may face. If circumstances indicate that you may be experiencing hardships, handicaps and misfortunes God has a message for you this day – Easter joy is based not on outward circumstances rather on God’s victory which He invites you to share this day.

Easter is a happy time because…

I.        It is a feast – Isaiah 25:6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines.

A.     This passage from Isaiah looks forward to the day when God would destroy death forever. Isaiah looks to the day when God would offer a fest for all the nations. A banquet in the Old Testament stood as a symbol of the consummation of God’s saving purpose in history.

B.     This feast is a celebration of God’s victory over death. God will swallow death up forever and thus death will no longer plague mankind. This is the work of God, and people have reason to celebrate His salvation with joy.

II.     It is a victory – Isaiah 25:7-8 On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.

A.     A question could be asked “how can we find an Easter message in an Old Testament passage?  It is found in the form of a promise of the future. The future was fulfilled on Easter.

B.     Today we’ve been given a perspective of God’s plan of salvation which was in His mind from the time of creation. When Isaiah wrote these words is was God Himself giving us His Word. On Easter God gave us His deed!

III.   It is salvation – Isaiah 25:9 In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD; we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.

A.     Your happiness does not depend on your well being in this world. Christians to this hour are oppressed, persecuted, and defeated yet they still rejoice. How so?

B.     The reason is the source of Christian’s joy – God. A person can rejoice because God Himself has defeated our worst enemy – death. God has provided a banquet feast for us.

CONCLUSION: On Easter we celebrate the reality that life overcomes death by the power of the resurrection. This was the promise Isaiah hoped for – for us today we celebrate its reality. Now death is dead forever! This is what God has done for us! This is reason for rejoicing and celebration.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday

Good Friday
April 14, 2006
Luke 23:39-43
How One Malefactor Died

INTRODUCTION: The mission of Christ in the world was not yet finished. He still exercised the right of forgiving sins and of blessing. He will absolve a man even at the 9th hour because of his confession of faith. This confession is remarkable under the circumstances and limitations of the time. Tonight we consider the confession of a dying thief.

I.        He revered God. In spite of his seedy past, in spite of his past misdeeds, in spite of his misspent life and failure he turned to Christ when it mattered the most.

A.     He rebuked a blasphemer. “Doest thou not even fear God?” (V.40) 

1.      This is the main issue with sin. We   disregard any respect for God. The 1st commandment reminds us that we should fear, love and trust in God above all things. We fall headlong into sin because we lack respect and fear of God. All sin can be lumped together under this 1st commandment.

2.      Yet, our sin will catch up with us. We may demonstrate disrespect for God when we sin – but it is our sin which points us to the reality that we need to honor God - for He will ultimately come as judge and king. With the Psalmist we must confess; “If Thou Lord should mark iniquity O Lord, who would stand.”

B.     The dying thief revered God. He manifested penitence for sin and confessed. “We indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds” (V.41)

1.      When Adam fell headlong into sin He blamed God. “It was the woman which You gave me! She tricked me!” Eve points the finger at the serpent – she attributes her sin to the devil – “It was the serpent – he deceived me!” Both Adam and Eve were quick to charge someone else but they were both responsible. Both were held accountable.

2.      The dying Thief learned the lesson which Adam and Eve could not. He was lead to true repentance. He acknowledged his sin. He was heart sorry for his sin. He was willing to take the punishment which he deserved. 

C.     He bore public witness to Jesus, “This man hath done nothing amiss” (V.41)

1.      He came to the realization that Jesus was a blameless man. Jesus suffered innocently – He was guiltless suffering for the guilty.

2.      Jesus Christ the pure and holy Savior suffered innocently for our sin – for by His stripes we are healed.

Transition: Even at the 9th hour this man revered God and thus he prayed. Not to anyone or any form…he prayed to Christ, referring to Him as “Lord” – “Lord remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”

II.     He prayed.

A.     As a believer – “Lord, remember me when thou comest into Thy kingdom.” (V.42) In the darkest “hour” humanly speaking, as death was looming over him he looked for that kingdom, when tried disciples fled, this man had faith in Jesus to enter into it.

B.     The reward of such faith – “Verily I say unto thee, ‘Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.” (V.43) Because of faith in Jesus’ work his death was a gate which leads to eternal life. When this dying thief died he took a walk from one end of the kingdom to the other from the kingdom of grace into the kingdom of glory. For us who remain here observing Christ’s suffering the promise spoken to this common thief is for you this night.

CONCLUSION: On that day heaven was open to a new believer. Jesus has promised to receive any who would come to Him by faith. In this eternal Kingdom of God we will live continually in the presence of the Lamb.  Rev 21:22 “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” (Revelation 21:22)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday
April 13, 2006
“An invitation to come”

INTRODUCTION: The Savior has invited us to come. Let us see the benefits of attending shall we? Let us consider Luther’s Christian Questions and Their Answers. The question is asked, “Why ought we to remember and proclaim His death?” The answer is given in three parts. This shall be the basis of our meditation this night.

I.        That we may learn to look with terror at our sins, and to regard them as great indeed.

A.     That we may learn to look with terror at our sins. The anger of an offended God is what Jesus faced. Consider His cry “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?!” Without Christ this is our cry!

B.     And to regard them as great indeed. We can claim nothing before God. Luther: “we are only beggars!”

Transition: As we look at our sins we must ask ourselves how do I stand?

II.     That we may learn to believe that no creature could make satisfaction for our sins but Christ, true God and man.

A.     That we may learn to believe that no creature could make satisfaction for our sins

B.     But only Jesus can make satisfaction for sin. Consider His two natures; He is both - true God and man, yet only one Christ.

1.      True God; a must for only God can save.

2.      And man; a must for it is a human who fell headlong into sin.

Transition: As Christ has forgiven us at the bloody cross we not take great comfort in His redeeming work.

III.   To find joy and comfort in Him alone and thus be save through such faith.

A.     To find joy and comfort in Him alone – J. S. Bach put it this way: “Jesu joy of man’s desiring. Holy wisdom, Love most bright. Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring. Souring to uncreated light. Word of God, our flesh that fashioned. With the fire of life impassioned, Striving still to truth unknown, souring, dying round Thy throne.”

B.     And thus be saved through such faith. It is a faith which clings to Jesus’ merit alone. It is the drowning victim which clings to the life- line. Jesus is my life-line.

CONCLUSION: Come, come weary sinners, come to the foot of the cross for all things are now ready!

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday
April 9, 2006
Mark 11:1-10; 15:1-39
The Way of the Cross Gives an Opportunity to Decide

INTRODUCTION: We come to the last of our Lenten meditations on the way of the cross. This morning we see that the way of the cross gives an opportunity to decide.  Pilate’s question “What then shall I do with Jesus?” makes everyone responsible to give an answer. How we answer depicts our faith in Jesus and determines our destiny. In the Passion story there are various answers given to Pilate’s question. Today, as when they were first asked, the same answers are possible.

What will you do with Jesus?

I.        You can Praise Him? – 11:1-10

A.     At this point a new section in the Gospel of Mark begins. Jesus arrives in Jerusalem and the rest of His ministry will take place within the confines of the Holy City of Jerusalem.

B.     Nothing is left to chance as far as Jesus is concerned. Beginning with His triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem Passion Week has begun. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is a deliberate Messianic action – He offers Himself as the people’s Savior knowing full well that this will provoke the leaders of the ruling Council to take action against Him.

C.     And yet, the people praise Him. They shout, Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  This is a direct quote from Psalm 118:25. The people understand what they are saying. Their praises are a prayer – a prayer for the Lord to continue to save and sustain His people.

Transition: One option is to praise Him another is to mock Him.

II.     Mock Him? – 15:16-20

A.     At the headquarters of the Roman Governor the soldiers place a purple robe upon Him and place upon His head a crown of thorns. The robe was probably an old military cloak, whose color suggested royalty. The crown of thorns was made of briers which grew in the region. Both the robe and the crown were parts of the mock royal attire place upon Jesus.

B.     While under the care of Pilate the soldiers mock Jesus. They cry out “Hail, king of the Jews!” which is nothing more then a mocking salutation that similar to the Roman salute “Hail Caesar!”

C.     Finally the struck Him with their fists and beat Him with a staff.  It was customary in the Near East that when in the presence of royalty one was to offer a kiss. The homage Jesus received? They spat in His face!

Transition:  Some will praise Him, others will mock Him, and still others will condemn Him.

III.   Condemn Him? – They crowd shouted in one accord “Crucify Him!”15:13

A.     A Romans means of execution was that of crucifixion. Heavy wrought-iron nails were driven through the wrists and the heel. If the life of the victim lingered too long, death was hastened by breaking the victim’s legs.

B.     Only slaves, the basest of criminals, and offenders who were not Roman citizens were executed in this manner.

Transition: There are plenty of options the world may choose to consider when asked what one should do with this Jesus. For the believer there is but one choice to consider.

IV.  Confess Him? With the Centurion we say; “Surely this man was the Son of God!” - 15:39

A.     The Centurion was a commander of 100 men in the Roman army. Mark specifically mentions that he “saw how Jesus died” The strength of Jesus’ cry indicates that Jesus did not die the ordinary death of those crucified. Normally one suffering crucifixion suffered long periods of complete agony, exhaustion and finally unconsciousness before dying. Not so with Jesus – within three hours He was dead!

B.     Luke in his Gospel would tell us that the Centurion “praised God” and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” The writers of the Gospels saw in the Centurion’s declaration a vindication of Jesus, and especially since the centurion was the Roman official in charge of the crucifixion, his testimony was viewed as significant.

CONCLUSION: Pilate announced to the chief priests as well as to the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man!” What would be a similar circumstance in our world? It would be almost as if a grand jury announced in the press “there is insufficient evidence to go to trial…” to which the Governor expedites the papers for an execution! Is this a miscarriage of justice? Possibly so, but in these events of Christ’s Passion we find salvation and life. What will you do with Jesus? Will you mock Him, will you condemn Him, will you praise Him, or will you hail Him? Now, let you be the judge.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Lent - Mid-week 6

Lent Mid-week 6
April 5, 2006
John 19:37
Jesus I will Ponder Now

They will look on the one they have pierced


When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the prince of glory died
My riches gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

The Passion of the Christ has been our focus through the sacred music of Johan Sebastian Bach these past three Wednesdays.  We turn now to our final chorale – it is simply a prayer - that we may be one in Christ.

Help O Christ Thou God’s own Son
Through Thy bitter anguish
That our wills with Thee be one
Zeal for evil vanquish

I.        We pray that our Will - may be one in the same as Christ’s. This we pray every time we pray the 3rd petition of the Lord’s Prayer – “Thy will be done” – Lord!

A.     How is this done?

1.      God’s good and gracious will is done among us by Himself – not us!

2.      Specifically, when God breaks and hinders every evil counsel and will which would not let us hallow God’s name nor let His Kingdom come.

3.      Those forces we contend with are the will of the devil, the world and our own sinful flesh.

B.     God’s Good and gracious will is...

1.      To strengthen and preserve us steadfast.

2.      Keeping us faithful to His Word and faith unto our end. “Fear not, little flock, for it is Your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” - Luke 12:32

Transition: We pray that the Father’s will might be done. Viewing Christ’s Passion we render Him our thanks and praise.

II.     Our focus thus is on Christ and His Cross

On Thy death and its true cause
Contrite thoughts will render

A.     When we consider all that Jesus endured - His suffering, agony and bloody sweet we cry out for the Father to have mercy upon us. With the beggar we cry, “Jesus, Master have mercy on me! ”-Mark 10:47 or, as the Kyrie would remind us; “Lord, have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord, have mercy.” And, in the words of the Agnus Dei; “O Christ Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world have mercy upon us and grand us Thy peace.”

B.     And we thank Him!

And though weak and full of flaws
Thee our thanks will tender

Thank You Jesus, that you have taken away my guilt and my sin. Thank you Jesus, that You prayed; “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” -Luke 23:34

Thank You Jesus, who gave Stephen the strength to pray; “Lord do not hold this sin against them!” –Acts 7:60 For this is how we ought to pray.

CONCLUSION:  As we have pondered Christ’s holy Passion during this Lenten journey may we be moved to pray;

Grant that I may willingly
Bear with Thee my crosses,
Learning humbleness of Thee,
Peace mid pain and losses.
May I give thee love for love!
Hear me, O my Savior,
That I may in heaven above
Sing Thy praise forever.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

Ø      When I survey the wondrous cross from The Lutheran Hymnal Concordia Publishing House St. Louis, MO © 1940

Ø      Jesus I will Ponder Now from The Lutheran Hymnal Concordia Publishing House St. Louis, MO © 1940